Sunday, April 13, 2008

Keeping up with the Joneses

It is a well established fact that Serdic is The Cook in our household. He does 90% of the cooking and every meal he has ever prepared for me has been delicious. But every once in awhile, I feel the need to prove that I can cook, too, and so I take over the kitchen for a night. The major difference in our styles, I think, is that Serdic is constantly trying new recipes or adjusting the ones he has based on what we happen to have in the fridge, whereas I have my few specialties that I do very well, and I don't tend to stray too far from them. One of these specialties is a vegetarian manicotti (although I've been known to make it with Serdic's famous spaghetti sauce as well, so it doesn't have to be vegetarian). It is the first meal I ever cooked for Serdic, back when we were first dating, and it's a dish he still requests on a regular basis. It's a bit time consuming and fussy, but the end result is definitely worth it. It also helps us with our resolution this year to take our lunches more often, as we get seven generous servings out of it, so two for dinner and then five lunches for the week ahead. I often try to make it on a weekend and then we have the leftovers in the fridge ready to go for Monday morning. You see tonight's meal pictured, along with garlic bread and a green salad.

I received the recipe as part of a fat loss program I was doing once upon a time, so it's also quite healthy. You can adjust as you like -- obviously full fat cheeses and/or sauce and such make a difference to taste and texture. I also play with the amounts of sauce and mozza, as I like my pasta very saucy and cheesy (just like me!). Of course, this has an impact on the calorie count. *sheepish grin*

The recipe is as follows:
1 box manicotti shells
1 15 oz container low-fat ricotta cheese
Whites of two large eggs
1 cup drained thawed frozen spinach or 2 cups fresh, chopped
1 cup grated peeled carrot
1 small onion
1 tbsp chopped fresh basil, or 1 tsp dried
1 tbsp minced fresh thyme, or 1 tsp dried
3 cups marinara sauce (I tend to cheat and use store bought, my favourite is Healthy Choice 'Garlic Lovers', or if there is a container of Serdic's spaghetti sauce in the freezer we'll use that)
1/2 cup part-skim mozzarella cheese, grated

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil and cook the shells for 3 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water, and put them in a bowl of room temperature water. Set aside.
2. In a bowl, combine the ricotta with the egg whites, spinach, carrot, onion, basil and thyme.
3. In a 9x14 baking dish, place about 1/2 cup of the marinara sauce, enough to cover the bottom. Drain the manicotti shells. Stuff each shell with the filling and place in the baking dish. Spoon over the remaining sauce. Cover with foil and bake 35-40 minutes, until the shells are fully cooked and the sauce is bubbling.
4. Remove the pan from the oven and uncover. Sprinkle evenly with the mozzarella and return to the oven for 10 minutes more, until the cheese is melted and slightly golden. Let rest 5 minutes before serving.
Makes 14 shells. A serving is 2 shells. 320 calories; 10 g. fat; 41 g. carbohydrates; 18 g. protein; 4 g. fibre.


Lythrum said...

That looks pretty tasty, does it freeze well? I'm always looking for things to freeze for work lunches. :)

TheSinger said...

It does indeed. Two or three portions of it are usually in our standard freezer rotation.